If you’re going to make a Twitter fail, you may as well make it spectacular, as US Airways recently found out. When faced with a complaint on Twitter, the airline’s social media team responded by directing the poor customer to view a pornographic image.

Yesterday it responded to a tweet from a young female user called “Alex” who said: “You ruined my spring break, I want some free stuff @USAirways H8 YOU”.

US Airways tweet Massive Twitter fail makes the world chuckle

The airline replied: “We don’t like to hear this, Alex. Please provide feedback to our Customer Relations team here,” followed by a link to a pornographic image of a woman performing a sex act with a model Boeing 777 (below). Reportedly, the aircraft’s insignia was obscured but at least there was some attempt at brand placement.

Many of US Airways’ 420,000 followers responded to the exchange to express a mixture of disgust, anger, surprise and amusement and it later emerged that the same link had been used in responses to other users as well. The airline has since apologised and said it was “investigating” the source of the tweets, which have since been removed. Many people have speculated that the image was posted as a cruel joke by departing member of US Airways’ dedicated social media team.

Still, they do say there is no such thing as bad publicity, and the tweets (and the accompanying image) became so popular in the Twitterverse  that it became the top trending topic in the US. The enthusiastic lady also ended up receiving more comments and retweets than the breaking news of the Pulitzer Prize award winners. Just shows how little effort is needed to get anywhere these days…

If you’d like to see the INCREDIBLY NSFW IMAGE, click here.

google plus logo Google: Contact lens cameras and still looking at your emailsGoogle, as we all know, aren’t too fussed about your privacy. When they’re not teaming up with governments, they’re scanning your correspondence so they can target adverts at you.

Personal privacy groups have long been unhappy with the internet giant and even Microsoft got in on the action, shouting “Don’t Get Scroogled by Gmail” when they were trying to convince everyone to use Outlook.

One court case against Google’s sniffing around our emails, District Judge Lucy H. Koh said that Google’s terms of service and privacy polices did not explicitly notify the plaintiffs “that Google would intercept users’ emails for the purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising.”

After that was said, Google spontaneously decided to update their terms of service, which came into play as of Monday, adding the provision that “Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

Not only that, but it looks like they’ve got some more wearable tech in the pipeline which could well creep out the kind of people who think the sky is falling on their heads.

Basically, those worried about Google Glass taking photos without consent will love the news that Google now has a pending patent for a contact lens embedded with a camera. That’s Google Glass which you wouldn’t be able to see if someone was wearing it. That’s human beings, essentially walking around with a camera stuck on their eyeball. It’ll be ace of paparazzi photographers.

Google say that the development would be used or diabetics and blind people, which is a nice idea; but if Glass takes off, you can’t see a scenario where Google wouldn’t want to try and make a shedload of money from it with a general sale.

Is Google’s Glass a surveillance device?

April 1st, 2014 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google glass Is Googles Glass a surveillance device?Over in That Australia, there’s a proposal to overhaul of state and federal privacy laws and with it, things could get a bit tricky for those making wearable technology, in particular, Google Glass.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has put forward an approach to privacy, with regards to technology, which is technology-neutral in their definition of “surveillance device”. Basically, what the ALRC are saying is that things like Google Glass are able to record private conversations or activities and if you haven’t got consent, then it should be illegal.

“Offences in surveillance device laws should include an offence proscribing the surveillance or recording of private conversations or activities without the consent of the participants,” say the ALRC.

“This offence should apply regardless of whether the person carrying out the surveillance is a participant to the conversation or activity, and regardless of whether the monitoring or recording takes place on private property.”

Now, of course, people can film things with their mobile phones or digital cameras, but it is a little more clear if someone is filming you with a handset. With Glass, someone could film you without you necessarily knowing. And obviously, governments like to copy each other, so if this move proves popular, we could see personal privacy rules being brought in, with regards to Glass, by other countries.

There’s already been bother with a Glass wearer who went to the cinema with them on, which ended up with homeland security being called out. There’s a whole host of personal privacy issues for anyone who is online, so is Glass potentially a personal privacy minefield which Google are ignoring, or hoping no-one will notice or care?

msn hotmail 300x298 Microsoft have been reading peoples private emailsDo you have a hotmail email account? Firstly – what is this? 1998? Secondly, you might want to know that Microsoft aren’t exactly fussed about your privacy. You see, they’ve admitted that they read the Hotmail inbox of a blogger while they were investigating a software leak.

John Frank, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said it took “extraordinary actions in this case” and, to keep the lawyers away, the search itself was technically legal.

What happened was that Microsoft’s snooping came to light during a legal case by US prosecutors against an ex-Microsoft employee, Alex Kibalko.

Microsoft were looking into the blogger had been given stolen lines of code from Windows 8. The blogger released screenshots of the code to his blog and Microsoft wanted to find the source of the leak. And so they started looking at the emails in the blogger’s accounts, so they could find the name of the employee dishing out secrets.

This snooping is allowed within Microsoft’s terms of service, which say: ”Microsoft reserves the right to review materials posted to the Communication Services and to remove any materials in its sole discretion.”

However, people are still unhappy with that and there are more debates about privacy violations of tech companies cropping up and, in addition to that, it has to be pointed out that Microsoft have been vocally critical of Google’s scanning of users emails, leaving them looking not only like nosey-parkers, but hypocrites too.

Facebook lambast Obama for spying: misses irony

March 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook lambast Obama for spying: misses ironyFacebook have a long history of privacy issues, mostly for using unsuspecting people’s personal information for their own gain. They mine users data, profile everyone and turn it into money for themselves. Basically, regardless of age or gender, Zuckerberg’s company watch what you ‘Like’ and talk about and turn it into gold.

Facebook has even had to pay out a $20 million settlement for sharing users’ likes in “Sponsored Stories” without permission.

And so, to Mark Zuckerberg’s open complaint to President Barack Obama about the continuing mutterings about the US government spying on the activities of some of his company’s 1.2 billion users.

Apparently, the Facebook founder phoned Barack Obama to gripe about his frustration over the NSA’s ALLEGED programmes and noted that Facebook has been focusing their time on making its own network secure and looking at the weaknesses of others because they want to ‘keep the Internet strong.’

While everyone is having a nice time online, Zuckerberg pretty much told the Prez outright that noted that the government are undoing all of the goodwill.

In an open letter, the Facebook fella said:

“As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.
The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together.”

“To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That’s why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people’s services.”

“The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.”

“This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

“The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

“So it’s up to us — all of us — to build the internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I’m committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.”

Do we need an Internet Bill of Rights?

March 13th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

bill of rights Do we need an Internet Bill of Rights?Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called upon the overlords of the internet to get together and sign an internet bill of rights.

The aim of this would be to defend freedom and privacy and ensure the rights of web users. This Magna Carta 2.0 would guarantee the independence and integrity of the World Wide Web as a whole. Of course, asking web giants to do it could be problematic, given that half of them seem to be in cahoots with government spying and Facebook is, well, nosey without anyone’s influence.

Berners-Lee made the statement as part of the internet’s 25th birthday celebrations and since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on everyone, Sir Tim has been a loud critic of online surveillance.

He thinks that it is now time for us all to make a communal decision on what the internet is going to be in the future.

Berners-Lee sees 2014 as the perfect time act, what with the NSA leaks and censorship being an increasing concern worldwide. Sir Tim defended Edward Snowden, saying that his whistleblowing was “in the public interest” and that we should be worried about the “growing tide of surveillance and censorship” all over the world.

He said: “In front of us are two roads – which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control – more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the World Wide Web?”

Any constitution on internet freedoms should look at the issues surrounding copyright and how ethics work on the internet. His online bill of rights will be included in a campaign called “Web We Want” which hopes to have a worldwide review of internet conventions.

What do you think? Would it ever be enforcible? Could anyone get the internet’s major players to even agree on a first draft?

UK spies intercept millions of Yahoo webcam images

February 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy title cropped UK spies intercept millions of Yahoo webcam imagesGCHQ – that’d be the British surveillance agency of spies – have been helped by the National Security Agency in swiping and intercepting webcam images from millions of internet users, which is a preposterous invasion of personal privacy.

According to files, which the Guardian are showing off at the moment, there was a surveillance program called ‘Optic Nerve’ which harvested images from Yahoo webcam chats and it didn’t matter if you were an intelligence target or not. These images were stored, including all the dirty stuff people had been doing.

More than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally have been spied on.

When the Guardian got in touch with Yahoo, they are reported to have “reacted furiously” and “denied any prior knowledge of the program” before accusing agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy”. In addition to that, the documents detail that GCHQ struggled to keep the huge library of “sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff.”

One of the leaked documents says the program is like a digital police mugshot book: ”Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face. The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.”

GCHQ insists all of its activities are necessary, proportionate, and in accordance with UK law. For more, visit the Guardian’s detailed coverage by clicking the link above.

G+ is just a spying exercise for Google

February 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google plus logo G+ is just a spying exercise for GoogleSeeing as G+ has been such a rousing failure for Google, ever wondered why they didn’t just delete it, like all their other unpopular products, like Wave and Buzz?

G+ may not have been embraced by users, but anyone who has a Gmail account or a YouTube channel, will have been using it and sending very valuable data to Google – it might not be a decent social network, but G+ is proving to be an excellent surveillance tool for the internet giant.

Plus is, in essence, all your accounts rolled into one, so Google know who your mates are through your emails, sees what you’re putting into their Maps and observes everything you do through their services.

If they want to woo advertisers, then this data is gold dust. And they’re getting loads of new sign-ups too. Want to comment on a YouTube video? It is mandatory that you get a G+ account. This, naturally, has set alarm bells ringing for people with antitrust concerns.

Even the Federal Trade Commission are looking at the whole thing suspiciously.

Now brands and companies are being dragged in, with Google offering packages which involve ‘prime placement’ in Google Search. Basically, if you want help with your SEO, then use Plus because you’ll get better placement than if you spend all your time with their rivals. WHICH ISN’T ROPEY AT ALL.

Every little (data breach) helps

February 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

Tesco Clubcard4 300x209 Every little (data breach) helpsPoor old Tesco. After posting falling profits at the end of last year, they are now the latest victim of data theft, with over 2,000 customers’ Clubcard data hacked, and vouchers nicked from wide open accounts.

It  has been reported that a list of 2,239 Tesco.com accounts was published on Pastebin yesterday with some customers complaining of being thrown out of their own accounts and that their vouchers have gone missing.

Tesco said that it was “urgently investigating” the situation: “We have contacted all customers who may have been affected and are committed to ensuring that none of them miss out as a result of this,” Tesco said in a statement.

“We will issue replacement vouchers to the very small number who are affected.”

While Tesco are coming under fire for this breach, it is probably not really Tesco’s fault. It is believed that hackers obtained username/email address and password data through other hacks, and then applied the hacked data to the Tesco’s database- gaining entry to those accounts who may have used the same password/email address combination.

Trey Ford, global security strategist at Rapid7, told The Register that the breach highlighted again the danger of reusing passwords across multiple accounts.

“The attackers seem to have picked up usernames and passwords that were leaked after breaches of other, potentially unrelated organisations, and by trying them on Tesco’s site, they were able to compromise 2,239 Tesco.com customer accounts,” he said.

“So far the information available indicates that the impact of this has been relatively limited – stolen vouchers – but if attackers have tried this on Tesco.com, the chances are they are also trying it on other sites too and so we may see additional fallout.”

Nevertheless, customers of Tesco’s facebook page have suggested a lack of confidence in the security of Tesco.com’s online shopping portal, and that they may be turning elsewhere.

Tesco was already under data breach fire this week after accidentally emailing a list of customers who were attempting to buy a trampoline without bcc-ing the email addresses- sharing around 300 email addresses between complete strangers at any one time. One customer claimed to have received the email five times, gaining access to a list of 1500 Tesco customers’ email addresses.

Be who you wanna be on Facebook

February 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zxzxzxz1 300x300 Be who you wanna be on FacebookFacebook has added a host of gender identities, alongside the old school male and female.

Facebookers in the US can now select ‘other’ in the new settings and choose one from up to 50 genders to be displayed on their profile page. Among these terms are cisgender, transgender, intersex, androgynous, bi-gender and gender fluid.

There’s also the option of them being able to choose their preferred pronoun, such as he/ his and she/her, and Facebook will tailor their prompts and messages to suit.

Also as part of the move, Facebook is making it possible for users to choose who can see their gender and who cannot.

“When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organisations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” the social network wrote on its Facebook Diversity page. “An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female’.”

And in a nice “Yeah!” touch, they’ve even hung some lovely flags at their Californian headquarters.

Microsoft deny China censorship

February 12th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

china Microsoft deny China censorshipGreatFire.org, a group which focuses on China-based freedom of speech, said in a statement that Microsoft search engine, Bing, was filtering search results for search terms like “Dalai Lama”, on behalf of the Chinese authorities (who think that the Dalai Lama is a violent political separatist).

Microsoft said it was a system fault that had removed some search results for users outside China and this is nothing like that time they censored the Chinese versions of their smartphones and Skype. Nothing at all.

“Due to an error in our system, we triggered an incorrect results removal notification for some searches noted in the report but the results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China,” Stefan Weitz, senior director for Bing.

You’ll notice that Weitz didn’t say whether or not they’d fixed the problem or, indeed, if the Bing team have any intention of sorting this out.

And what did Microsoft tell China? Well, they sent out an edited version of their statement to Chinese media organisations and handily omitted any references to GreatFire.org. Why? A China-based Mircosoft spokesperson said: ”There were too many points in the original statement.”

It goes without saying that China isn’t too keen on social media networks and censorship is not something Chinese governments have ever shied away from. This means that any internet companies wanting to work there have to be careful or cavalier. They usually choose ‘careful’ because there’s a lot of money to be made from the Chinese market. Still, you have to assume that the comment sections on Chinese website aren’t a cesspit of flaccid yelling and people saying “everything isn’t as good as it used to be!”, which is something.

Thank goodness that there’s absolutely no examples of internet giants kowtowing to governments in the West, eh?

Zombie Spambot Holocaust

February 12th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade
mondo zombies 300x168 Zombie Spambot Holocaust

some zombies earlier

Anyone who has ever been on Twitter for more than five minutes knows that it has its fair share of zombies, but a recent episode of a user literally being targeted by the undead, has left them a bit cheesed off and distressed.

Asher Wolf had noticed that she’d gained 100 new followers in one big swoop, and on closer inspection, it looked as though the undead had taken a shine to her feed. Noticing that they were all fake account bots, she felt as though someone had signed her up to a zombie botnet thing.

As the day progressed, another several thousand zombies had started following, leading Asher to change the security settings on her Twitter, yet still left with a hoard of bots to report and block, her task no doubt echoing Bauhaus’ “Undead, undead, undead” as she scrolled through them.

After the Australian Twitter office had responded to Asher, she learned that a number of other users had been hit in a similar fashion. Eventually, a tweet arrived from one of the zombies telling her that she’d survived the zombie “outbreak” and that the new series of The Walking Dead was starting at 8.30pm on FXAU that night.

Now understandably outraged, Asher realised that the social media marketing department of a channel she didn’t even subscribe to, had spammed her and others willy nilly about it.

Having located the source of the spam, a company called FutureApp2017, which is connected to The Clemenger Group of companies that specialise in advertising and marketing solutions, which is in turn connected to the Omnicom Group – the largest communications group in the world.

After a quick scan of Section 16 of the Spam Act 2003 showed that if the viral advertising campaign had originated from the Clemenger Group and Foxtel’s FX Australia channel as their client, they may have potentially breached federal law forbidding electronic spam.

If the zombie Twitter bots originated from FX Australia or a paid contractor, then it appears they are also potentially in breach of Twitter’s terms of service, seeing as it looked very much like FX Australia had hired a company to spam people on Twitter.

virgin glass 300x171 Virgin Atlantic staff: now probably filming you with Google GlassThe concierge staff for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class are promising to upgrade the passenger experience at Heathrow by donning wearable technology – notably, Google Glass and a Sony Smartwatch 2.

This six-week pilot scheme promises that the technology will allow staff to “deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalised customer service yet”.

Staff will use a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system, in a bid to make everything more efficient and give customers more information when needed, provided you find yourself in the Upper Class Wing.

Dave Bulman, director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”

It also seems like staff will be able to walk around filming customers with Glass too and that all that lovely information about who is flying could be used for marketing gains and whatnot. If you see one of these concierges, be sure to ask them if they’re recording you at all.

Barclays to be fined again after data breach

February 10th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

barclays bank limited 300x300 Barclays to be fined again after data breachBeleaguered Barclays are staring down the barrel of yet more fines after they stated that they’re looking into the reasons why 27,000 of their customers had their data stolen and flogged by bad people on the black market.

According to a statement, they said they’d notified regulators over the data breach and started their own probe.

“This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator,” said Barclays.

If you had any dealings with Barclays Financial Planning wing (which closed in 2011) and haven’t heard from the  bank yet, it would be worth getting in touch to see what you need to do or, indeed, to see what free stuff you can get by way of compensation.

The Barclays statement continued: ”Protecting our customers’ data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. We would like to reassure all of our customers that we have taken every practical measure to ensure that personal and financial details remain as safe and secure as possible.”

Cyber-attacks on financial institutions are becoming more frequent, but it seems our banks are slow to react to the whole thing, so maybe, just to be on the safe side, we should start drawing all our money out and hiding it under the bed and asking our banks to burn all our details in a huge pyre in a town square.

Governments are spying on you through Angry Birds

January 28th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

angry birds toy Governments are spying on you through Angry BirdsDo you like playing games on your phone, such as Angry Birds? Well, it has been reported that you users of these apps are leaving their personal info wide open so that governments can secretly harvest all your lovely data.

This comes from the infamous former NSA bod, Edward Snowden. He says that officials from the NSA (and its UK counterpart GCHQ) have developed ways of nabbing your personal details through games and apps so they can find out your age, location and, in some cases, political views and sexual orientation.

NSA officials told The New York Times: “The NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission. Because some data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process.”

Meanwhile, NBC have also stated that GCHQ showed off a pilot program to the NSA where they monitored YouTube in real time while collecting addresses from the billions of videos watched daily. They were also able to snoop on Facebook and Twitter too.

They called this monitoring program “Squeaky Dolphin,” which is presumably a bid to make the whole thing sound funny should the truth of the matter end up being leaked to the public.